Above / Naperville Mayor Steve Chirico welcomed members from the Illinois State Legislature and Senate, Naperville City Council, Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce and a large group of reporters to a press conference with Governor Bruce Rauner at the Naperville Municipal Center on Aug. 24, 2017.
Welcomed by Mayor Steve Chirco, Governor Bruce Rauner arrived at the Naperville Municipal Center today at 10AM for an bill-signing event organized by State Rep. Grant Wehrli and State Senator Mike Connelly.
In early January 2017, Wehrli introduced HB 418 that was sent to Governor Rauner in June, and approved and signed today in Council Chambers.
“Years ago a bipartisan coalition of Illinois legislators passed a comprehensive pension reform bill,” explained Connelly after the press conference. “The Supreme Court found it unconstitutional. This year, a near unanimous General Assembly voted Yes to HB 418 – a pension reform Bill that makes real change in limiting our long term pension liabilities.”
PHOTO GALLERY / Governor Bruce Rauner signs HB 418 in Naperville Council ChambersConnelly and the group assembled, including Governor Bruce Rauner, expressed gratitude to Wehrli for his dedicated leadership with the reform bill that will prevent retired police officers from “double dipping” in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund. In other words, if an officer retires from one active duty job on a Friday, explained Wehrli, and then starts another one on a Monday, from now on, he or she cannot begin a second pension fund.
What is allowed, however, is for a municipality to have the choice to offer some type of different contribution fund in the event the new hire (a police chief or officer, for example) starts a his or her job after retirement that includes a pension from the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund (IMRF).
The new law aims to benefit all Illinois taxpayers while ensuring fair and just compensation for all police officers. Wehrli acknowledges HB 418 is just the beginning, hopeful this model will be applied in the future to other new government employees with pensions.
“Thank you, Grant Wehrli, for your leadership on this issue and thank you to our colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their support,” added Connelly.
After signing HB 418, Governor Rauner remained to answer questions from Chicago media outlets regarding other issues of the day, including resignations of Diana Rickert, Laurel Patrick, Meghan Keenan and Brittany Carl on his communications team.
“We are grateful for their hard work on behalf of the people of Illinois and wish them all the best going forward,” Governor Rauner said in a written statement. “Elizabeth Tomev is acting communications director.”
UPDATED FROM THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE THURSDAY AFTERNOON / Gov. Bruce Rauner today signed House Bill 418, which prevents retired police officers from opting into the pension system a second time if they return to the force as a police chief or join another municipality’s force.
This bill will protect taxpayers from situations in which police officers are collecting two pensions from the same pension fund — a problem known as “double dipping.” Police officers that are promoted to police chief or join a different force will enroll in 401(k)-style retirement plans instead of opting into the pension fund again.
“Illinois taxpayers can’t afford to pay the same person twice,” Gov. Rauner said. “This bill is an important step to help control Illinois’ unsustainable pension costs. It will protect taxpayers from pension fund abuse while still ensuring our police officers are fairly compensated for their service.”
The bill was sponsored by two Naperville Republicans after controversy over whether a Naperville police chief should be able to accrue new pension payments while simultaneously earning a salary of over $168,000 and collecting payments from his first pension.
“There is a loophole in current law that allows double-dipping into the police pension systems, and it’s costing municipalities and local taxpayers a fortune. Retired law enforcement officers have earned their pensions, but they should not be able to claim multiple pensions that we can’t afford,” said Rep. Grant Wehrli (R-Naperville), the primary sponsor of this legislation. “Closing this loophole is one step toward keeping our struggling pension systems solvent.”
“Illinois’ pension systems are in dire need of repair as our pension liabilities at both the state and local levels continue to rack up,” said Sen. Connelly (R-Naperville). “While I recognize that many changes need to occur within the current system, this law at least gets us going in the right direction.”
Video of the event is posted here under “8-24-2017.”